Germany, swamped by immigrants and newcomers from all parts of the world, will assign 20 percent of all asylum-seekers to the formerly communist East starting in December, officials said Friday.
West Germany long was popular with refugees because of its generous social benefits and liberal asylum laws crafted after World War II. These now apply in former East German territory since unification on Oct. 3.The 11 states in western Germany complain they cannot cope with the growing numbers of asylum-seekers. They have demanded that Bonn put some of the burden on the five new states in eastern Germany.
The number of asylum-seekers in Germany is expected to top 200,000 this year. Fewer than 4 percent of the applicants are ever expected to be granted refuge, but processing their applications can take years.
Although asylum-seekers are not allowed legally to work, they are eligible for welfare benefits, including government-subsidized housing while their cases are being decided.
The Interior Ministry said Friday that each of the five new states, Saxony, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Lower Pomerania, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia, must count on receiving 8,000 asylum applicants a year starting Dec. 1.
Although the western states say they can no longer cope, the new eastern states face far more serious financial difficulties in absorbing the newcomers.
The Economics and Social Science Institute of the German Trade Union says the local governments face a shortage of more than $66 billion to run their communities over the next four years.
The eastern state of Saxony already has registered 31 refugees from Romania, Poland, India, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey but could house them only in huts on the edge of town.